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Aussie Baptists Denounce Ledger Picket - USA/Australia

Society & Culture  (tags: australia, usa, heath ledger, Christians, protests, Baptists, memorial, disgraceful )

- 4068 days ago -
THE Baptist Union of Australia has moved to distance itself from members of a US church who are planning to picket memorial services for Australian actor Heath Ledger. The Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas said it would protest any memorial held f


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Jaclin S (230)
Friday January 25, 2008, 9:48 pm
We must have sympathy for these Westboro Baptist Church folk - they are far from the path of wisdom. They are very SAD folk!!!
Heath Ledger was a very beautiful, talented young man and his passing brings much sorrow.

Chrissy N (118)
Friday January 25, 2008, 9:58 pm
Such a shame that they are linking his memorial service to a role he played in a movie. If you don't agree with that lifestyle, don't watch the movie.

I'm willing to bet that many of them would have been Rock Hudson or Perry Mason stars!

Past Member (0)
Friday January 25, 2008, 10:04 pm
Noted/TY Chrissy/As I understand, no official Baptist Church claims this bunch of misguided people and also understand that most in this "church" are of the same family.

Saturday January 26, 2008, 1:27 am
Noted. The man was an actor. That was it & a good one. Where is their real Christian attitude, in their boots. Shame on people being that way.

Kathy Chadwell (354)
Saturday January 26, 2008, 4:35 am
The Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas are on their way straight to hell in my opinion.
I assure you they will get there even faster if any of Patriot Guard Riders ever get fed up with them.
This is the same bunch of loonies who have the nerve to picket American Soldiers funerals.
About The Westboro Baptist Church
On October 31, 2007, a federal jury in Baltimore, Maryland, found the Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) guilty of violating a right to privacy and inflicting intentional emotional distress against the family of Matthew Snyder, a Marine who was killed in Iraq in 2006. Since the summer of 2005, WBC, led by Fred Phelps, has been picketing funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, with placards reading "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "Thank God for IEDs [improvised explosive devices]," while shouting epithets at grieving parents. Phelps believes that the soldiers represent a nation tolerant of homosexuality, and their deaths are God's direct punishment for their sins.

The jury ordered WBC to pay nearly $11 million in damages, a sum members claim is many times more than the WBC’s net assets. Fred Phelps promised to appeal the verdict. This is the first time the church has been held liable for their military funeral protests; the father of Matthew Snyder was the first individual to attempt such a lawsuit against the group.

To date, the WBC’s protests have taken place in at least 22 states, attracting a great deal of publicity and inspiring a wave of grassroots anger. As a result, 38 states have introduced bills to limit protests near funerals, and at least 29 of those states have passed such measures. The constitutionality of these laws has been challenged in four states with mixed results. In addition, President Bush signed the “Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act” on May 29, 2006, which limits protests near certain military cemeteries. Phelps has vowed to challenge the legislation, alleging that these new restrictions unconstitutionally restrict freedom of speech.

Before gaining notoriety and provoking public anger for disrespecting slain soldiers and their families, the group was known for picketing the funerals of gay people or those they perceived to be gay. In 1998, WBC congregants set off an angry reaction when they showed up at the funeral of gay murder victim Matthew Shepard, and held up signs reading "No Fags in Heaven" and "God Hates Fags." According to the WBC Web site, they have staged "over 22,000" protests across the nation and around the world since 1991.

Incorporated in 1967 as a not-for-profit organization, the Westboro Baptist Church considers itself an "Old School (or, Primitive)" Baptist Church. The Church is led by the septuagenarian Reverend Fred Waldron Phelps Sr., and many WBC congregants are related to Phelps by blood. His wife, several of his children and dozens of his grandchildren frequent the church.

While WBC has picketed the gay community at hundreds of events nationwide, most of the individuals protested by the Church are not homosexual. In fact, WBC most often targets people it mistakenly claims are gay or those it believes to be encouraging homosexuality. Many WBC fliers emphasize the race or religion of these individuals, suggesting that the Church's hate spreads beyond its abhorrence of homosexuality. WBC congregants believe that "God's hatred is one of His holy attributes." What appears to be anti-gay rhetoric is often a vehicle for WBC's anti-Semitism, hatred of other Christians, and even racism, though in the 1980s Fred Phelps received awards from the Greater Kansas City Chapter of Blacks in Government and the Bonner Springs branch of the NAACP for his work on behalf of Black clients.

Trained as a lawyer, Fred Phelps was disbarred in 1979 by the Kansas Supreme Court, which asserted that he had "little regard for the ethics of his profession." The formal complaint against Phelps charged that he misrepresented the truth in a motion for a new trial in a case he had brought, and that he held the defendant in the case up to "unnecessary public ridicule for which there is no basis in fact." Following his disbarment from Kansas State courts, Phelps continued to practice law in Federal courts. In 1985, nine Federal court judges filed a disciplinary complaint charging him and six of his family members, all attorneys, with making false accusations against them. The Phelpses fought the complaint but lost. In 1989, Fred Phelps agreed to surrender his license to practice law in Federal court in exchange for the Federal judges allowing the other members of his family to continue practicing in Federal court.

In 1991, WBC staged its first public demonstration, targeting a park in Topeka allegedly frequented by gays. Thousands of protests have followed, and WBC shows no sign of slowing down. In addition to speeches on the picket lines, the Church spreads its hateful message via faxed fliers and "News Releases." These faxed documents also appear at WBC's notorious Web site,, along with photos of Church pickets and a schedule of upcoming demonstrations. A second WBC Web site,, contends that the United States is "doomed" because it supports gays. According to Fred Phelps, "God invented the Internet for us to preach on."

The following quotations from WBC materials and other sources expose the Church's views on Jews, gays, Blacks, Christians and the United States. WBC's own words best demonstrate the wide range and disturbing nature of its hatred.

Patriot Guard Riders Challenge Phelps and Westboro Baptist
So we all know about Westboro Baptist Church and their leader the Reverend Fred Phelps, and most of have probably read about how these hate-mongering reactionaries go around the country picketing the funerals of soldiers, murdered gays, high school proms and graduations where any tolerance of homosexuals is displayed.
Well now a group of motorcyclists known as the Patriot Guard Riders is traveling the country with the specific purpose of confronting Phelps and his cabal, shielding soldier's families, and providing a loud, visible counterpoint to Westboro protesters

. (0)
Saturday January 26, 2008, 10:06 am
"Westboro parishioner Shirley Phelps told Sydney radio station 2Day FM she would picket services.
"I'm going to picket him in two places,'' she told 2Day FM.

"I'm going to stand outside of any public memorial service that he has here.

"And then the other place I'm going to picket him is when they prop him up to worship his dead, rotting carcass further at the Oscars. I'll be right outside by the red carpet.''

Her statements say more about the kind of person she is than what was said about Heath Ledger.
Noted with sadness that this young man's family will be subjected to this kind of attitude in their time of grief.

William Synnott (3)
Saturday January 26, 2008, 12:24 pm
Westboro Baptist church is not affiliated with any baptist convention here in the USA or North America. The Patriot guard almost lost it with them here. in Lincoln.when one of our young soldiers men was buried.

Kerin Gould (0)
Saturday January 26, 2008, 12:45 pm
Some folks who claim to be Christians apparently missed all the parts of their own sacred text that focused mainly on being kind, humble and non-judgmental (like that part about casting stones, isn't it?). Add in avoiding greed and materialism, and I think that covers the bulk of the new testament's message. It's not my worldview, but it seems that more folks who claim to be Christian should try out those values. (I do know a few who do, and I really respect them for it.)

Kerin Gould (0)
Saturday January 26, 2008, 12:46 pm
Some folks who claim to be Christians apparently missed all the parts of their own sacred text that focused mainly on being kind, humble and non-judgmental (like that part about casting stones, isn't it?). Add in avoiding greed and materialism, and I think that covers the bulk of the new testament's message. It's not my worldview, but it seems that more folks who claim to be Christian should try out those values. (I do know a few who do, and I really respect them for it.)

Past Member (0)
Saturday January 26, 2008, 2:35 pm
The Westboro Baptist Church is the same awful organization that pickets at the funerals of soldiers. It is abhorrable.

See this story:

Pauline F (16)
Saturday January 26, 2008, 2:54 pm
There are more wars in the name of religion than for any other reason. The world is full of religious nutters. If these idiots can't tell the difference between acting and real life, then they are just plain stupid, narrow minded and tunnel visioned. Get a life!

Chrissy N (118)
Saturday January 26, 2008, 5:32 pm
This is so dam kooky ... surely it's up to "God" to decide on your fate? So, let them worship thier God and leave him to dispense "justice: ... then again, i thought the God they worshipped is all forgiving?

Lil Judd (70)
Saturday January 26, 2008, 11:14 pm
These people need to get a life. We have to feel sorry & pitty them - - they have no idea what "love, caring & forgiving" is all about.

. (0)
Saturday January 26, 2008, 11:30 pm
These religious nutters have only 2 chances getting a visa into Australia. "Buckley's and None" (for those not an Aussie, google the saying)

Chrissy N (118)
Saturday January 26, 2008, 11:45 pm
There's some already here i feel ...........................

Sandra H (16)
Sunday January 27, 2008, 5:02 am
These idiots (the Westboro Church folks) came here (Danville, VA area) several years ago to protest at a local university that had started a Gay / Lesbian student group. To everyone's credit, the citizens here just pretty much ignored them and there was no violence.

I have to wonder how people can become so misguided, as these Westoboro people are? They called themselves Christians, but seem to have missed the entire message of Jesus. :-( Apparently, they have a different Bible than the one I have read.


Michael Angel (58)
Tuesday March 4, 2008, 11:22 pm
I haven't seen the movie but the book/short story was beautiful.

Amazing anyone had the insight into writing about such love.

Isn't LOVE what Christianity is SUPPOSED to be about?
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